Commissioners in Tuscola County spent hours of their Thursday morning meeting listening to Almer and Ellington Township residents frustrated by the perceived lack of attention paid to them by their respective township planning committees regarding the zoning of wind turbines.
Mike Patullo, a member of the Ellington-Almer Township Concerned Citizens Group, brought several friends and neighbors with him to the Board of Commissioners meeting on Thursday to discuss changes being made to zoning ordinances in the two townships that would allow NextEra Energy to build a wind turbine project that would span four townships and include about 60 new turbines.
Patullo is fighting for zoning measures in Ellington Township that would require setbacks of at 1,320 feet from property lines and sound levels of 40 dB(a) from the home. The current ordinance is 1,320 feet from the home and 55dB(a).
“NextEra and 5% of residents are dictating this wind project,” said one of the slides in Patullo’s presentation. He claims that of the 220 signatures of support for better zoning ordinances he’s gathered, 92% support a moratorium. He says many have asked that Board President Duane Lockwood recuse himself from this vote because he stands to gain from having turbines on his property. Patullo says only 25 homes of 480 in Ellington Township have wind leases at this time.
Patullo brought with him Jim Tussey, who is fighting to keep Almer Township zoning ordinances safer for residents. NextEra is pushing the Zoning Board of Almer Township to change the sound levels there from 45dB(a) at the property line to to 50dB(a) at the home so they can fit more turbines into the project. Residents are asking the board to reduce the sound ordinance to 40dB(a) at the property line.
Patullo asked that the Board of Commissioners get involved by passing a non-binding resolution asking every township board in the county to look into their zoning ordinances and be prepared if wind energy tries to move into their area. One of the slides in his presentation read, “Please help us warn the rest of Tuscola County.”
The Board agreed to send out an informational letter to local boards. In addition, county officials will also look into placing wind facts and information on the County’s website following Board approval.
The next Almer Township Planning Commission meeting is Wednesday, April 6th at 7pm at the Almer Township Hall. Residents are not yet aware of the next Ellington Township meeting.
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